Mount Olive Missionary Baptist Church of Nashville, Tennessee, Inc.
On March 10, 1887, Mt. Olive Missionary Baptist Church was established. Its conception began when Reverend R.T. Huffman, former pastor of First Baptist Church (Spruce Street Baptist Church), and a number of followers, stirred by the evangelistic spirit, set out to establish a new church for the glorification of God.
Determined to carry out this mission, without an edifice, the group gathered for services at various homes. They came by foot, by horse drawn buggy and by trolley. Others joined them and the membership grew under the dynamic leadership of Reverend Huffman. As the membership grew, the places of worship varied. The first place of worship was Liberty Hall, located on the corner of Cedar Street and Fourth Avenue . Later, the place of worship moved to Junkers Hall, at the corner of First and Bridge Avenues. Reverend Huffman, however realized that to sustain the unity of the members and the increased growth of the membership, the congregation needed a permanent house of worship.
Thus, he organized an effort to collect bricks to build a church. The members rallied to his call, doing whatever they could for the Kingdom building. On March 10, 1887, the house of worship was realized. Reverend Huffman and three hundred people marched to 908 Cedar Street where the basement level was dedicated as Mount Olive Missionary Baptist Church. After six years of pastoring in this house of worship, Reverend Huffman resigned.
Reverend Huffman was succeeded by Reverend C.H. Clark. During his pastorate, he became the first chairman of the National Baptist Publishing Board. The years of his ministry were fraught with expansion and growth. Atop the basement was built an elaborate church. Two large square brick gabled structures with slender steeples and arched windows buttressed the triangular roofed rectangular front of the two-story building which had an arched entry way hewn stone steps that led from the street to an arches porch with brick columns that supported a flat roof with a miniature triangle at the center. On each side of the building, "antique" art windows with arches and stained glass panes complemented the church designed. The added structure seated twelve hundred (1200) people with ease. As expected, the membership increased enormously. On June 4, 1897, Reverend Clark received the State Charter for Mount Olive Missionary Baptist Church. In 1920, he resigned to accept a pastorate at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Chicago, Illinois.
Reverend John B. Ridley, a member of the church succeeded Reverend Clark. While pastoring Mount Olive, Reverend Ridley served as Chairman of the Board of the National Baptist Publishing Board, which was located at the corner of Second and Locust Streets. Because of illness, Reverend Ridley relinquished the pastorate.
The years that followed were years of transition. The church experienced the effects of a world war, a depression, and the Capitol Hill Redevelopment. because of this Redevelopment, Mount Olive was once again without a house of worship. But Mount Olive survived. Reverend John Thomas Patton, a member of the church, accepted successfully to hold the membership together. The church temporarily worshiped in Andrew Jackson Community Building Center and in Pearl Elementary School until the new edifice of Mount Olive was completed in 1955.
Reverend Frank K. Sims of Georgetown, South Carolina, who had recently accepted the call to Mount Olive, led the congregation by motorcade from Pearl Elementary School to the new place of worship. As the members enter the church, they joyfully sang "We're Marching to Zion". Reverend Sim's influence on the lives of young people in the community helped to increase the membership. In 1959, he accepted a pastorate in Chicago, Illinois.
Reverend E.N. Bates, the next pastor, was a fund raiser. At one time, over three thousand dollars ($3,000) was raised through the States Rally System. Reverend Bates was assisted by Reverend T.B. Boyd, Jr. The Reverend Samuel L. Johnson followed Reverend Bates as pastor. Under his administration, the church mortgage was burned. When he resigned in 1973, Reverend Wallace Flemming was appointed interim minister his position terminated when Reverend John L. Ragland of Memphis became pastor in June 1972. Reverend Ragland's work was principally evangelistic. He resigned in August 1976.
To continue the unity of the church. Reverend John Jarrett became interim minister and stayed until Reverend Marcel Kellar accepted the pastorate in November 1977 (the refurbishing and soul saving after his Holy Land experience)
Upon leaving Mount Olive, Reverend Kellar along with a group of Christian believers, established Antioch Missionary Baptist Church here in Nashville. It was then that Reverend L. Royal Byars was appointed and remained interim minister of Mount Olive until his election as the church's pastor on November 2, 1991. Following his departure The Reverend Georgia Moody served as interim pastor of Mount Olive for two and half years. The pastoral call was extended to the Reverend Dr. Amos Thomas Griffey,III, of Winston-Salem, North Carolina and now he serves as Senior Pastor.
Thus, the spiritually-inspired togetherness of the members and their leaders has built Mount Olive upon a solid rock for the glorification of God.